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Bill Gates is no longer Microsoft's largest shareholder

Bill Gates, ever the philanthropist, has given away his way to no longer being Microsoft's largest shareholder. It's a title Gates had held since founding Microsoft, starting off with a 64% share of the company he co-founded with Paul Allen. But Gate's philanthropic efforts, mostly on behalf of his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have steadily eaten away at his share of the company.

A trade filed today saw Gates selling 4.6 million shares of MSFT (to the tune of $185.6 million), and that was enough to drag his ownership down to 330.1 million shares. The shares that Gates has sold has dragged his ownership down from that 64% to under 4%. Gates has, on average, sold 80 million shares of Microsoft a year.

So with 330.1 million shares putting Gates at numero dos in the Microsoft ownership hierarchy, who is numero uno? With 333 million shares, it's Gate's successor as CEO: Steve Ballmer.

So, congratulations to Bill Gates, for giving his way away to no longer being Microsoft's largest shareholder. It's a worthy thing to have earned billions upon billions of dollars only to give it all away.

Source: GeekWire

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

215 Comments
  • Nice move, Bill.
  • Wow...i can't believe he gave it up. I know its for a good reason....but ITS MICROSOFT lol
  • He's a human, he's not going to live forever.
  • That's a good point. He's just so awesome.
  • HE WILL !!
  • Oh Gates will live on forever... Not physically...
  • I insist..Yes physically.
  • Transcendence? lol
  • Apparently, bill gates has 5 of his clones ready.
  • Steve jobs agrees lol
  • Don't like.
  • Don't care.
  • Good game well played. - Bill's daughter Cortana
  • Go Gates, Go Ballmer!
  • I like this. Now MSFT has big Money to play with now. Thanks Bill.
  • You clearly don't understand how stocks work, do you?
  • I don't. I keep my money under a mattress. But please explain. What is wrong with this deal? And how it will not help MSFT?
  • Shares of MSFT are sold on the open market, in this case the NASDAQ stock exchange. When Gates (or anybody else, for that matter), puts their shares up for sale, anybody who is looking to buy at that point in time can buy them. The buyer takes ownership of those shares, and thus a stake in Microsoft. The money from the sale goes to Gates, as they were his shares.
  • Ok so gates gets a one time deal. So what. Now for example who get those shares? Perhaps MSFT? Or some one heavily invested in MSFT? Who will re circulate this money in MSFT. What's is wrong with that? Gates was giving away his entire fortune to charity anyway.
  • The person who buys the shares gets the shares. It doesn't make one bit of difference to the company financially.
  • Whoever had a MSFT open " buy order" will get them. In other words the money does not goo back to MS. If MS had a buyback ongoing program the company would put money out to buy the shares.
  • Microsoft doesn't help. The miney or the shares. Gates gets the money. The people who bought the shares (individuals, mutual funds, pension funds, etc.) get the shares. Microsoft would only get the shares if they were doing a stock buy-back in which they would be paying Gates for the shares. This deal will neither help nor hurt Microsoft.
  • Not a cent goes to Microsoft. The shares were initially purchased and they got money from that, but these shares are just essentially being traded now, so no benefit to Microsoft whatsoever
  • I understand guys and gals. Question is who bought those shares? For example say TD Bank is heavy invested on iOS and Google. Why in the world should they make a WP app? In contrast Gates sold to who? Perhaps the buyer is heavily invested on MSFT. Please follow me here.
  • Bill sold the shares in open market.  The buyers are instituions, pension funds, mom and dad, uncle, sister, relative in oversea...etc.   
  • Cool. What then? Who bought these shares IOS or Goggle? Or you don't know. :-).
  • well ppl buy stocks to make money, so if google or apple bought the shares it "can" be pretty bad for msft (assuming these stocks have voting rights, which it probably does)
  • There is no "iOS" Company. What you're talking about is Apple, the company behind the iPhone and therefore iOS. It doesn't necessarily mean that a single buyer got all of Bill's shares, it could be millions of buyers or just a few.
  • You clearly have no idea about the subject of share trading, so stop coming up with far fetched scenarios that make your cluelessness even more evevident. Go read up on IPOs, secondary share offerings, share buybacks, and in general on how shares are traded on the open market instead of trying to ask everyone questions in the attempt to say that there might be some scenario in which your original ignorant statement might be correct. Do take this the right way please :)
  • Yeah... You should Bing that...
  • Bing what Barry? I invest my money in the black market. Perhaps some illegal aliens assets straight up out value your shares.
  • k0de, if you were looking to buy stock in Microsoft, you very well could have been the person that purchased those stocks. No one can answer your question as to who actually purchased those very same shares. It could literally be anyone that was purchasing shares in Microsoft. You, me, Sergey Brin, etc. I mentioned 3 people that I highly doubt actually did purchase them, but I hope that helps illustrate my point. It's impossible foe any of us to have the answer since we aren't the brokers that handled the trade.
  • To get started, you could watch this:  http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_2Kt4moES0U
  • You clearly do not understand how stocks work, and that's fine. However, it would serve you well to learn at least learn the basics before posting about a subject you do not understand.
  • I love Microsoft and really do wish they were at those time of Monopoly again. And Bill Gates is cool, too, but I don't like how he is giving up on stuff.
  • It is about time. Bill lived his life. This is cool. It shows that he is ready for retirement.
  • Hows he giving up on stuff? Do explain ...
  • He didn't give up on anything. He's changed his focus to the noble cause of his Foundation.
  • He has been for years now. Read the article again, he sells stop year after year in order to fund his foundation.
  • True. So nvm. :p
  • He probably wanted for a while but waited to see how Nadella would be accepted. Now that things seem like they're on the right track, he can sell.
  • He's been selling long before Nadalla, this has been a gradual process.
  • Yeah that was in the article, but for some reason I read it as if he had sold 330 million shares, which upon a second glance I saw was not true, lol
  • Gates' philanthropy is commendable.
  • Amen!
  • Bill Gates thru Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have helped millions of people. I wonder if Google has done the same.
  • Google helped millions of people get targeted advertising. LOL. ;)
  • Bazinga!!!
  • Ur profile always freaks me out lol!! Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • They have indeed. Unfortunately, some of their philanthropy is misguided, such as promoting the cutting of male genitalia in Africa. Sadistic and ineffectual, and disappointing these otherwise two wonderful people fund it.
  • They should do that in india, they seem to popping kids over there like crazy!!! :P
  • @MicrosoftWinPho He's talking about how Gates' foundation is promoting male circumcision, which, as I agree with @coip, is misguided and ineffectual.
  • But, don't they have enough elephant trunks in Africa already /I kid
  • Wow...haha. I guess Africa has at least two kinds of trunk extinction problems going on...
  • That's a lie. Circumcision greatly reduces the chances of prostate cancer and other diseases in third world countries where washing yourself often is a rare luxury. That's why its recommended, its not a misguided or religious directive. Its a preventative measure and one less thing for a poor person to worry about
  • Anything can become a "preventative measure" if you involve surgical removal as a solution.
  • Straw man -- Bam --
  • jgservices
    Excuse me, but are you drunk or just plain stupid? Maybe you should have your brain removed to avoid brain cancer...
  • Straw man. -- Bam --
  • but he's right you know? and it's not like removing a p*nis or something like that. they still can be a father one day...
  • Lol I know he is right, he just did it did the wrong way xD -- Bam --
  • Circumcision is a legitimate method of reducing transmission of several diseases, most notably HIV.  It has no negative long term consequences, and the positive is that it may save thier life.  You may not like it or agree with it, but the Gates Foundation is about what works, not what is popular.
  • Google is inexistent compared to Microsoft history, only a passing meteor. Will be forgot, like Netscape and all others.
  • Google has contributions to computer history and it currently has near-monopoply influence to the Internet.  When Google went down for a few minutes, did worldwide Internet dropped like 40ish percents?    Google Search is still the best.  It may act more and more like Microsoft 10 years ago but you cannot ignore its part in history. 
  • Google search is way better than Bing, and I find this out everytime I take the Bing vs Google test, by Microsoft.
  • Its better for you maybe, but not better overall. That is not a test of "which is best", it is a test of "which do you prefer".
  • What "contributions" does Google have to computing history exactly?
  • They showed everyone how to make a good search engine and how to make money from ads on the internet. And how to make a cool campus for your workers bt other than that not much really.
  • Search engine. Check. As for the rest, that's business in general. Not computing history. But thanks for the reply because it was helpful. EDIT: As for the search engine, I guess that of course existed prior. And they still haven't released their algorithms, which I assume are constantly evolving, so they really just sparked innovation in that field, more so than really giving anything lasting. That is a contribution so I'm not taking anything away from them, but computing history in particular I'd leave it at search engines and browser development(Chrome was ahead of its time regarding web apps + usability of said apps). Everything else they've purchased.
  • Beside search engine, Google makes cloud comuting popular for consumer market, that is an important page in the history.  It plays a big role to end Microsoft monopoly in the market and created its own near-monopoly empire.  Many HOME users can live without Microsoft products now but imagine life without google.  Android is another page in the history.  Here Google followed Microsoft's success formula by providing cheap copycat of iOS and the app ecosystem and steal the iOS market like a storm.  Just like what Microsoft did in the 90s with Windows.  Although it is for its own benefit, Google also helped and is helping to push high-speed Internet to the world. 
  • Internet history*
  • It is not who is better but who help humanity the most and the last time check google only help you to become a billboard for it ads. But hey, if that make you happy...good radiance with that.
  • I created an account to say this: Google DNS. Look it up. 
  • Yes, he will be remembered as a great person. Will anyone ever give away and help people like he has and will?
  • Not many billionaires give away their wealth, and less companies do it.
  • look up the giving pledge, pretty much started by Gates and Buffet
  • I like that
  • Way to go bill! I wish I had a 2% of Microsoft! I'd be rich!
  • Yeah me too
  • I suppose 0.2% could be enough :D
  • 2% of his remaining 4% shares would do for me.
  • Great. Now Ballmer can finish f*cking up Microsoft. Jesus Christ. I just can't get mad at Bill because he actually did it for a greater good. But the thought of having that moroning bald Ballmer as the major shareholder is just...just horrible. I've read that Ballmer was considered one of the worse CEOs of the last decade and now he can strive to achieve the goal of being the worst major shareholder of a company of the next decade too.
     
  • Dude. He owns less than 5% of the company. Take a breath and eat a cookie.
  • Well said!
  • Breathe... Breathe
  • Did Ballmer molest you as a child or something?
  • Ballmer molested his favorite company (;
  • Exactly, but honestly his comment is so disgusting you shouldn't have bothered telling him that.
  • What sort of moronic idiot are you to make such a comment? Do you think it's funny to make jokes about child abuse?
  • Lol
  • *passes the tissue box*
  • Breathe!!! 1-2-3 Breathe!!! Overact much? Gee I wish I was a bad CEO like Ballmer and create record company profits.  All the excitement of things being done at Microsoft today have nothing to do with Nadella. Nadella is just a cheerleader for the moment.  His overall decisions in company direction will come with the coming year. Everything you see today and happening the last few months, and coming months (maybe year or more for some items) will be because of Ballmer's decisions. Admittedly there have been miststeps but how did he hurt you personally.  Stock has been stable (not flying high) but not dropping. Profits are exellent.  Direction has been adjusted.  Everything goes in waves.  Worst CEO.  Boy, I read a lot things about a lot of people and if I believe everything I read elsewhere by some "know it all" academic or person whose only claim to fame was to write attack pieces about other people then I would consider myself a failure.  Once again breathe!!!
  • Thank you, someone else who gets it. Ballmer was a pretty good CEO. There are plenty of other CEOs who did much much worse than Ballmer in the last ten years. Yahoo anyone?
  • You're complaining? Color me surprised.
  • Quick!  Get a paper bag for him to breathe into...
  • What does being bald have to do with it?
  • lol Nothing. I just like to call him Bald Ballmer. It rolls off the tong.
  • What else rolls off the tong? Chicken, beef, salad?
  • This is so cool. The fact that he is willing to give so much, even his own company for the good of others.
  • Bill Gates is doing some truly amazing things... It's nice to see somebody who got uber rich giving back like this.
  • I would never do that.
  • Never use billions earned over decades to do some good in the world.... Yeah totally a bad idea...
  • When I get some billions I'll rethink my position.
  • Good luck with getting there.
  • Thanks! I need to come up with another brilliant idea, as Taco Bell stole my breakfast waffle taco idea.
  • Omg haha! -- Bam --
  • Its for a great Cause, but i fell sad about him not being the biggest share holder :| Well he's my idol, and he's the one who inspired me and made me feel the passion about Computers and softwares :) Someday in near future, i wanna join Microsoft as a software Engineer, i'm studying for which right now :)
  • Good Luck! Hope you make it! =-)
  • Thanks mate :)
  • I wish you great success. Maybe you'll continue to follow your idol and become a billionaire that users his riches and influence to help the less fortunate. Not a bad person to emulate.
  • Knowing Bill was the "real boss" even if behind the scenes made me feel good....This is not a good news for me too, little destabilizing :/ ....
  • He'll end up buying them back after a while. No biggie.
  • No. He isn't like that. Trust me.
  • Most likely when the share prices go down abit :P.
  • I heard he's waiting till the rights to the name expire and then he is going to start a company called Nokia. True story.
  • Except Nokia still exist as a separate company
  • Sarcasn,
  • Gates FTW!
  • Hellyeah!
  • Way to go Bill! I'm sad to see him not the biggest holder, but he is a perfect example of how to live life. If you make something of yourself and then can share your success, you should. If more people in this world was like him it would be a better place for everyone. Microsoft for live!!!
  • Microsoft will always be synonym to Bill gate no matter who has the hold the most share. From technology to philanthropy, he inspires many whatever he decides to do.
  • I don't get it , what's the good cause again ??
  • Google ittt I mean Bing. Bing it. ..bing.
  • http://tinyurl.com/kk2olsf
  • First time I've seen that link. Friggin' hillarious! "Behold the results!"  
  • Funny how the general populace vilifies Gates while putting Jobs (who was notorious for not helping the needy) on a pedestal
  • That's the kind of world we live in...
  • Now that you mention it. Jobs must've had a lot of money too. What did he do with it?
  • With his money he built an iPyramid and was buried in it along with all of his remaining money and personal goods.
  • He hoarded it. He thought it was a waste to give away money and help others. A true lost hippy
  • Even though I love Apple more than MS, I completely agree with you on this. Bill Gates has a big heart.
  • Jobs did squat for people.
  • And Gates worked from nothing to being where he is. How many others did that.
  • actually quiet a few, especially in the tech world
  • Good on Bill.
  • Well, that first sentence is certainly a disaster. I'm not generally the grammar police, but this site really needs an editor.
  • +1020
  • Totally agree. They seriously need to start proof reading these articles.
  • Yes, and the comments too.
  • This article is riddled with writing mistakes. It does not take much professionalism to check your work. I do this in almost everything I write, and I'm not a writer.
  • You know, I actually stopped reading after the first sentence... I wasn't THAT interested in the story, and I had to read the first sentence 3 times before I felt I had some idea what the author intended. After your comment, I went back and read the rest... I can't believe he actually used the phrase "giving his way away to no longer" TWICE.  It makes absolutely no sense.  I'm at the point where I just kind of scan the articles here to see if it's anything important, then move on if it's not.  It's just not worth the hassle trying to figure out what the authors are trying to communicate.  I understand that the site's philosophy is that it doesn't matter much, but it really makes it seem very unprofessional, and causes a lot of confusion while reading.  You would think that would be somethign they'd be interested in correcting.
  • Whenever I see an article stating MSFT concerns, gramatical jokes should be put aside. It's a matter who read the article that determine if it need jokes. Does shareholders news readers need jokes on their articles?
  • whut?
  • Give it all away.
  • Gotta love bill. Would Steve jobs have done this? Nope. "Force more Chinese workers to work in worse conditions! Materials to expensive? Sell them at a higher price!" Blabahagagahg -- Bam --
  • I am afraid you are confusing single people behavior with the one of companies; the Surface and other hardware is not produced in the US or Europe.
  • Perhaps... -- Bam --
  • From what remember @thurrott saying, Bill will be totally divested from MFST by ~2020
  • It's easy to respect a guy like that. He doesn't get hung up on the status of being the richest man on earth. He's found more important things to focus on.
  • Wait. Has he been giving away approximately $4 billion per year?
  • Is the boat sinking?
  • Long ago, before learning of his philanthropy work and now news of this turn of events, I USED to think Bill Gates was evil.
  • Gates has totally crushed jobs on life lessons. Praise jobs for his design ethic and attention to detail but Gates just puts Jobs to shame .... And yes I know he's dead... Gates has impressed this giving ethic on MS as well. Go look how much MS gives away vs Apple. This guy is quite the role model
  • Its not like he couldn't buy it back I he wanted too
  • That actually made me sad. Don't know why.
  • Way to go Mr Gates. Nice legacy with your charity work and foundations. Just like the Apple guy's legacy. Oh wait, he didn't give a shit about others. Suck it Jobs. Bill wins.
  • That's why Jobs died earlier than Bill. And this is why I also love Microsoft.
  • Wow.
  • That smirk!
  • It's great to see humanitarians and philanthropists in practice.  He and Warren Buffett introduced a campaign in 2010 called "The Giving Pledge" (http://givingpledge.org) targeted at billionaires to give away at least half of their fortune to charity.  "As of February 2014, 122 billionaire or former billionaire individuals and couples have signed the pledge."  Very cool.
  • Thanks Bill
  • I'm still waiting for the day in which MSFT will snatch APPL's weave and be numero uno again.
  • I wonder what that guy from Apple gave or did to make the world a better place, or for the betterment of humanity....
  • Probably a hint that Microsoft share price about to go down soon, sell now?
  • I'll let you know when I'm selling, cos everytime I do, they go up right afterwards. ;-)
  • how is that a hint?
  • This is why Bill Gates live longer than Steve Jobs. Great job Bill I salute you sir.
  • What a stupid comment
  • I can't tell if the article's author is upset or just reporting the event (I just can't understand the last paragraph). This man isn't giving up on stuff. In fact, he is doubling down on humanity with his philanthropic endeavors. This is actually good PR as plenty of people want to see a changing of the guard. This might have been one way to symbolically do that. Or just to raise money to fund his charity. We need more rich people like him.
  • Mr Gates is crazyy......giving up on something he founded........
  • He is not giving up on it.
  • Your comment illustrates perfectly why you'll never be in the same position as him. What're you gonna do with whatever you've hoarded in life - take it with you to the grave?
  • The first sentence is horrible. I was laughing out loud.
  • Great Man with Great Heart!
  • Po I think he could have helped his cause more by hanging on to the stock! He now has to find something else to invest in to make up for the dividends and growth of of that stock!
  • How will mere dividends compensate for the value locked in the shares? Even transferring the shares to his charity won't help. As long as it's just shares it's just theoretical money (whose values fluctuates with the share price); only when he sells them does he get the cold, hard cash to fund his charity with.
  • Bill Gates. Always Inspiring
  • Awwww. I loved Bill Gates though.
  • That's why I support Microsoft from the very beginning. He is a true legend.
  • Always Microsoft! Never Samsung, never Apple! Especially, never Samsung!!!
  • Haha I got a "friend" who thinks he's an evil man. Tried to convince him Bill Gates is an honorary man doing real good, but without luck xD
  • I just can't see what's good in this...
  • Why? Helping people across the world (including in India) is useless? Do charities run on air?
  • That's why I said.
    Seriously, did you read the article and relate it to my comment properly?
  • Oh I read the article all right, did you? It congratulates Bill for selling so many of his shares to fund his charitable endeavours that he's no longer Microsoft's largest shareholder. Your response to this? "I just can't see what's good in this." So tell me again, what's not good in his selling off his shares, given his reason for doing so?
  • Why are number one and two in Spanish? :/
  • Spanglish...
  • Good on Bill Gates. I still can't believe Ballmer has the single largest share of msft. Even after being ousted. The irony. Loved the AMA yesterday. Hope this is a good indication of a more open and thoughtful, less boisterous and made drunk with power msft. Ballmer may have created wealth but he sure made people angry and the brand's perception has got a Ballmer sized chunk in it. And some of the decisions... Wow. Focus and move on msft. And Gates, good on you!
  • How's it hard to believe? Just because Ballmer was (supposedly) ousted doesn't mean they can snatch away his personal shareholding from him.
  • He does not give up just going through the curtain, whence further will be overseen by a purely tactical play. Google and Microsoft closely support the military technology of terror.
  • Bill, you are awesome. Literally.
  • Bill, I love you and want to have your babies. Is that how it goes?
  • Uh... No. I'm a man.
  • In recent years Gates made a lot of money from his investments (the main reason he reclaimed the title of reachest person in the world).  While he tries to give a lot to charity, he litterally can't give it away fast enough (probably because he's not just giving money but actually gives his time which is probably worth just as much, that's a smart money investment) Whatever bad feelings people had about the ruthless businessman Gates was in the 90s, you can't ignore the charity work he has done. Others also give money, his example of actually giving experties as well might change the way philantropic work is done.
  • Always bee a fan of Bill Gates,even more so now.
  • MS aside, I've really grown to admire Melinda and Bill. Not surprised by this news at all.
  • Role model.
  • Ballmer should give hours shares back for all the damage he did.
  • Bill wants to be remembered for more than Microsoft, and it's quite obvious that he will be.
  • Nice billy
  • Need to rewrite a few of those sentences in that article, sir.
  • Ether way, Microsoft sucks... :p
  • Chill dude Nadella and Belfiore both are awesome
  • Is it just me or does Bill Gates actually resemble the south park episode (before he kills Ballmer)?
  • Bill you have not done one last work, choose another bill for microsoft and omit the competators
  • He's been selling steadily on a plan that will lead him to have no shares in 2018... So dear commenters, he's not "giving up"...
  • Developers, developers, developers...
  • 200th comment :D
  • My all time favorite personality :)
  • He is think ing i wont be around to help it along so I'm not going to make my kids spoiled I'm going to make them work for it isted and i cant be here forever I'm 70! I'm not Shure if the company will be the same if i go... (if I'm him that is)
  • He's still a dozen years shy of 70.
  • He is retired. He wants to enjoy is golden years. If that is what he wants to do, then all the power to him. He worked for it and created the largest software company in the world (If you read the story on how he got started, it was truly a tech person in the right place at the right time, nothing more that opened the door for Microsoft). It's not a fact if he believes in MS or not but, I would bet many years of his life he was working 80+ hours a week and now he wants to enjoy his life and take it easy. I say go for it ! If he has too much money, send a few million my way, you would be shocked how many lives it could effect :)
  • If you follow his work with the Foundation you'll see that he's actually working almost as hard as he ever was with Microsoft. He's not the type of person who just donates some money to a charity and forgets about it.
  • He's still got 330 Million shares. I mean come on, that's like 10 Billion dollars if he were to sell them all right now.
  • And lets not forget that Bill Gates used to own 25% of Apple Computer. I don't know if he still owns that same percentage of Apple...it is really amazing to think that Apple would one day be worth more than Microsoft. Oh, and the shares of Apple that were/are owned by Gates were shares that were non-voting shares, meaning that even if he did own 25% of the company, he had no say as to how the company was ran. Bill Gates bought 25% of Apple when Apple was close to bankruptcy. Bill Gates literally saved Apple from going out of business. Gates was, at that time, being attacked by the federal government for being a monopoly. A lot of people think that his reason for saving Apple was so that Microsoft could say "see, we aren't a monopoly, people can purchase Windows if they choose to, or they can use the Mac OS, so the consumer does have a choice."